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The Rivers Of War by Eric Flint

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Buy The Rivers Of War in the USA - or Buy The Rivers Of War in the UK

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pub: Del Rey/Ballantine Books. 485 page hardback. Price: $25.95 (US), $32.95 (CAN). ISBN: 0-345-46567-9.

check out website: www.delreydigital.com

This is a book set during the period of the War of 1812 which was fought between the British and the Americans. The author, Eric Flint, who has written several alternative history books, such as '1632', whilst incorporating real historic figures such as Andrew Jackson and Sam Houston into his story presupposes that the Americans are friendly towards the Indian tribes who join them to repel the rascally British. Perhaps being one of the rascally British and having served in a regiment which had the battle honour NIAGRA for defeating a major American assault on Canada in this war, I was someone prejudiced against the book from the outset.


It is a fascinating period of history but perhaps what is somewhat disappointing is that none of the author's manipulations seem to have altered the outcome of the major events in his book from those in real history. This is not a case where the Confederacy win the Civil War. His alternative history seems therefore to make no change to major future events and although I enjoy alternative history and read it voraciously, I was rather disappointed on that heading alone. In fairness, the author has a second volume to follow this one and it may be that his history will diverge more from reality in that. In any event, it seems the changes are more in inter-racial harmony both between the Native Americans and the white settlers and also between the whites and the blacks. I do know the British raised units of black soldiers during the War of Independence but not whether this was the case during this war. In the story, some of the heroes are Cherokee and a battalion of black soldiers.

There is a coherent story which follows a number of characters through to the siege of New Orleans. The early part of the war tended to be naval but once the Napoleonic Wars had apparently finished in 1814, British troops were shipped over the Atlantic in large numbers. Washington was burnt. This is why the President's house is white. It was painted that colour to hide the scorch marks. The British, under General Pakenham who had served under Wellington, also tried to capture New Orleans but the attack was disastrously unsuccessful. This aspect is well portrayed in the book but if Jackson, victor of the battle of New Orleans and a future President, was as unpleasant a character as portrayed here you would not want to meet him.

I somehow found it difficult to get into this book. That may be me rather than the writing. Details of the fighting, for instance, are very well done. I just felt that the relationships between the characters, especially the ones on the American side, were rather too much of sweetness and light.

I have read several of Eric Flint's other books. I do not

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